It only took me ten years (though admittedly for the first three or four that was more of a conscious choice than an accident), but tonight I finally made it to one of the biggest shows in the West End of London; We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre.
Overall I thought it was a good show. The cast were superb, the costumes were fantastic, the jokes funny, the plot, erm, yes well it was entertaining, but not exactly the deepest story ever written. Still, it worked with the show and it’s not actually a criticism, more a throw away comment. The music was… Queen. And whilst I can appreciate that the band were rock legends, I’m really not much of a fan and the music was therefore not much of a highlight for me. It was, in fact, a big part of the reason it took me so long to see the show in the first place. That said, there were a few highlights. No One But You is a stunning song anyway and given the musical theatre treatment, I loved it (I also already knew it well, having listened to my sister perform it years ago and also having listened to Kerry Ellis’s album many a time on spotify). Along the same lines, I also enjoyed Who Wants To Live Forever, though I don’t really know it all that well. The big numbers were also fun – We Will Rock You, Another One Bites The Dust and even Bohemian Rhapsody (which I always hated, but can now tolerate at the very least. Bits of it I even like!). I Want It All was also a bit of a favourite, but then I really loved Meat and that was one of her songs.
I liked the staging (though the use of the old Wembley Stadium with its twin towers kinda bugged me. I know it looks better stylistically, but it still looked wrong) and the dance routines, particularly at the beginning for Radio Ga Ga. I also adored the costumes and the kinda punk rock tribal feel. The bohemian/rebel nature also gave them a bit of a hippy vibe which I obviously connected to a little (I know I’m not really a hippy, but I like the style!). There were a few scenes, or at least lines in scenes, that wouldn’t have felt out of place in Hair.
The best part of this show, for me personally, were the little touches. The retro Space Invaders on the screens during Another One Bites The Dust (I’m sure I saw a flash of Link from the Zelda games in there as well), the recreation of Tottenham Court Road station (which still isn’t finished) as the Heartbreak Hotel, the names of the characters and the multitude of current pop-culture references… The fact that the show clearly morphs slightly with the times (they won’t have been blaming X-Factor and High School Musical for the death of Rock and Roll ten years ago!). I laughed a lot and really the attention to detail was what made the show brilliant, in my opinion. Shaky plot aside, it was very well written.
The cast, as I said, were superb. I saw Alex Gaumond in Legally Blonde many moons ago and though I thought he was good, he didn’t particularly stand out. Not so tonight. He played Galileo and he was absolutely phenomenal. Ramin Karimloo kinda phenomenal. He actually reminded me a bit of Ramin with the way he sang and moved, but wow, really. I’ll definitely be keeping him on my radar from now on and I’m very glad to have seen him in the role. The way he acted, the way he moved and spoke, as if he wasn’t in charge of his own body was really rather brilliant. The other highlight for me was Rachel John as Meat. She was absolutely incredible and she has a truly stunning voice. Her rendition of No One But You was beautiful. Lauren Samuels played Scaramouche and she also had an amazing voice and a great vibe on stage. Her character is a tad on the annoying side, but she played it brilliantly. Brit, played by Wayne Robinson, was also a slightly annoying character, but when he opened his mouth and sang rather than doing weird karate moves, he was awesome. He also looked rather yummy with some serious guns as Brit. Finally, Brenda Edwards played Killer Queen and she had a proper diva air about her (on stage, at least). Very well cast, I thought.
The stage door afterwards was a bit difficult as pretty much the entire cast were wearing wigs and I was far enough back (row X of the stalls, though they were half price, so I can’t complain – thank you lastminute.com) that I knew I’d have trouble recognising faces. Fortunately my priority was Alex Gaumond and Rachel John if I managed to recognise her and I caught them both for autographs and photos. I managed a few more signatures as well, though I missed Wayne Robinson due to timing issues and not knowing his name at the time to call after him, which was a shame.
Anyhoo, overall consensus – it was a good show, worth seeing once even if you’re not a Queen fan. The jokes really are brilliant, if you like cheesy comedy. If you like Queen’s music and also like musical theatre, there’s no question. Go and see it.
Next up is Stevie Webb’s cabaret thingemy whatsit at the Landor in flippin’ Clapham (I have nothing against Clapham except for its distance from my house) on Saturday with a potential trip to the Shaftesbury stage door afterwards for an attempt at cornering Oliver Tompsett and potentially Justin Lee Collins as well. (Despite having just seen We Will Rock You, I’m already back to humming Rock Of Ages tracks… *sings* Motorin’, what’s your price for flight? *ahem*
Peace, loVe loVe and rock ‘n’ roll,
PS. This is the second time I’ve bought a glossy brochure and found that it’s not the cast I saw. For Mamma Mia, I wasn’t sure when the last cast change was so I could forgive it, but this? I’m almost certain that Alex Gaumond joined the cast the day after performing at one of the awards ceremonies I went to last year. Even if it wasn’t the WoS Awards (which is my first guess), it must have been nearly a year ago now and still no glossy brochures? Not happy. They had better have an updated Les Mis brochure for Ramin next time I go or I will be very unimpressed. Shame it’s unlikely to have any cool new pictures of Liam and/or Hadley though!